In my previous post we took a look at some of the high profile academies and initiatives that have sprung up in recent years. They offer great opportunity to get involves in motorsport related activity and potentially begin work placement and full time roles in Formula 1.
The well financed and hugely promoted glamour of these schemes is very attractive but there is a danger that another purpose is the prime motivation behind them. I applaud the efforts by the industry and would never discourage you from getting involved but it is very important to understand that these schemes exist largely to promote the companies behind them rather than to support your career. Dare to be Different is perhaps not in this category but of the Engineering Academies we discussed, it should be obvious that a sponsorship partner is usually heavily promoted as part of the scheme.
The public nature of the selection process is again carefully chosen to maximise brand awareness and align the partner with opportunity for young people. For the chosen few it is fantastic, but for the hundreds of unsuccessful candidates you will have been subjected to a very clever marketing ploy and not a great deal further forward with your own personal objectives.
Perhaps I am cynical but it is important not to be led too much by the attraction of these public schemes. Given the sheer size of the motorsport industry it should be obvious that the vast majority of people who work in F1 get there via their own efforts rather than via engineering academies. These competitions offer good experiences but they will not in themselves give you the skills you need to really compete in the open jobs markets.
As a recruiter myself, I would be interested by someone who has perhaps been in the final selection process or attended the World Finals for F1 in Schools but I would be looking to see what else they had achieved before inviting them for interview or offering them a job. Real world experience is hugely more impressive still and much closer to the realities of working in F1 than the glamour and promotional razzmatazz of the engineering acadmies.
If someone has spent hours at a cold, wet kart track or helped rebuild an old club car in a dark and uncomfortable garage somewhere then I get to see a side of them that tells me that they really want to work in motorsport. Even in F1, the majority of your working life will be very unglamorous and not very comfortable. F1 garages are either freezing cold or hot and humid and rarely a place to relax or pose for photographs. If you are the sort of person that wants to spend your weekend in a place like this then I want to hear from you !
Getting opportunity is difficult, make no mistake. The attraction of a ready promoted, one-click application scheme is obvious but then it is obvious to thousands of other people too. A career in Formula 1 is a competition but if you want to be a real winner in that game, consider carefully before you decide to follow the crowd. The cold, wet, unglamorous alternative may not be quite so attractive but it is much more likely to make you a winner in this game and that is what we are all here to do.
Good luck but remember to keep your options open !